I must admit, I am fairly addicted to technology and gadgets. I grew up loving video games (Pong and Atari 2600 started it all for me) and still have four different console systems at home. I tend to be an early adopter of new devices, and can seldom be found without my iPhone or iPad close by. Yet, even when I admit this to myself, there is still a little judgmental voice inside that believes that smart phones, tablets, computers and games disrupt society and distance us, especially in a Jewish context. Luckily, a number of recent experiences have proven that technology actually helps to connect us and to improve our Jewish lives.
After the drama of the High Holy Days, we have returned to the beginning of the Torah. Early on, in chapter 19, we meet a character who has much to teach us, although she is with us only a short time: Lot’s wife. She is almost anonymous; her reactions to being told to leave her home in Sodom are not shared. We know only that she turns around to look behind her at the city they are escaping, and turns into a pillar of salt for all eternity.
On the High Holy Days, we are encouraged to look back. We ponder the year that has passed, what has transpired, and how we might change it in the future. But what if we are stuck? What if we can’t get past a specific event? How many of us have experienced a terrible ordeal?
Life is busy, right? It’s crazy. And frustrating. There is just so much that happens each day that annoys us. Our co-workers, or our in-laws, or our kids… our bills, our obligations, our struggles… all of these factors can add up to a very troublesome existence. It is so easy to let days go by before we take a deep breath, pause, and actually take time to be grateful. To say a blessing. To be satisfied with what we have right now, rather than what we want.
Last week, I rode a record-breaking roller coaster. Kingda Ka, as it is known, is the tallest and second-fastest in the world. It climbs as high as 45 stories into the sky: closer to the heavens than any other ride. There was peacefulness, and a sense of closeness to God (though I know that those who are afraid of roller coasters will scoff at my sense of divinity).